Ten Hag previews Man Utd's trip to Arsenal
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Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has opened up on his reduced role at the club since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking. While acknowledging that football is a ‘squad game’, he has admitted his frustrations with losing his cemented spot in central defence.
Maguire was one of the first names on the team sheet under Solskjaer, who sanctioned the £80million deal to sign him from Leicester City in 2019.
But Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez have arrived at Old Trafford since and, along with inconsistent form last season, have replaced him in Erik ten Hag’s preferred back line.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s trip to Arsenal, Maguire admitted he was ‘disappointed’ to have fallen down the pecking order under Ten Hag.
However, he understands the importance of competition for places in a successful squad and is optimistic about more minutes on the horizon due to this season’s ‘relentless’ schedule.
He told United Daily: “I think subs throughout our season have been really important. They’ve scored some crucial goals [and] players have come on and had a big impact in the game. So we know it’s a squad game.
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“Obviously, everyone wants to start, and everyone’s disappointed when they don’t start the games, but that’s the way it should be because we’re all footballers.
“We’re all competitive. We want to play football. But we’ve also got to be ready when we’re called upon.
“I think our fixture list from now until the end of the season is relentless, not much break, not much rest in between games. So I’m sure fresh legs will be used.
“And I think if you’re going to be a successful squad, it’s so important to have competition for places in each position, and I think we’ve got that in this team now.”
Maguire will likely have to settle for a place on the bench again at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.
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Varane and Martinez are expected to start back-to-back games with each other for the first time since the World Cup after Ten Hag reunited them at Crystal Palace midweek.
Due to the Dutchman’s strict philosophy on left-sided centre-backs, Maguire has had to watch Luke Shaw deputise Martinez over the winter, intensified speculation of his unrest.
But the 29-year-old has indicated that he is ready to be a team player, at least for the remainder of the season.
And he should see game-time across United’s upcoming cup ties against Nottingham Forest and Reading as the Red Devils pursue their first silverware since 2017.
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